I had long heard about the high quality of the Lenfilm adaptations of Sherlock Holmes for Russian television starring Vasili Livanov, and now, through the grace of the internet and subtitles, I am getting the chance to see them. Their reputation is more than borne out. "Deadly Fight" picks up where its predecessor in a three-part arc left off, and uses Conan Doyle's story "The Final Problem" as a basis for embellishment and the creation of a wonderful film. It's a great attitude to take towards the original stories, and here "The Final Problem" is blended masterfully with elements from "Charles Augustus Milverton" in the previous film. One wouldn't have expected the one of the best film versions of this completely English character, and one that should feel so very right, should have been filmed in Russian.
Livanov's Holmes is one of the best I have seen: calm and friendly but totally in-command and both suited to an intellectual display through dialogue and quietly prepared for springing into action. He can change the tenor of a scene with ever-so-minor variations in his performance. Vitali Solomin is just about perfect as Watson. He rally becomes a full character here with the help of some great touches in the script -- and seemingly effortlessly as everything is still drawn from the spring of what we know from Conan Doyle. Viktor Yefgrafov is a slithering, creepy, and truly unnerving Professor Moriarty here in a great piece of casting.
The direction and pacing keep this film totally suspenseful and macabre all the way through. The viewer can really feel the sense of claustrophobia and impending doom as Moriarty makes his presence subtly known everywhere Holmes goes, leading up to a brilliant scene before the Reichenbach Falls as Holmes contemplates his destiny. It all balanced with just enough humor (such as in the scene where Watson unexpectedly runs into Lestrade) to keep it from being too oppressive. The ending is legitimately affecting no matter how well one knows that Holmes survives. In all, it's almost flawless, and looks gorgeous as well, with plenty of impressive location footage. If you couldn't tell, I recommend it and will be watching more.
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